Category Archives: Events

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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Quarter day, or clearing the premisses without consulting your landlord, January 30, 1814. Hand colored etching. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Princeton University Class of 1895. Graphic Arts Collection Rowlandson 1785E vol.7


Just a quick note to everyone who has so kindly followed this blog over the years. I will be leaving Princeton at the end of August and so, this will be the end of the new posts.

Since 2007 over 5,000 items in the graphic arts collection have been described. I’m told the site will remain for research and reference, which is my hope. If you have questions about the collection, you can post them to:

Thanks very much for your interest. Julie

Reminder: Don’t miss Dante 21

“2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy and universally considered the father of the Italian language, who passed away on the night between the 13th and the 14th of September 1321″ = Dante 21. Don’t miss the opportunity to view Bronzino’s Allegorical Portrait of Dante at the Metropolitan Museum through October 11, 2021.

Se mai continga che ’l poema sacro
al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
sì che m’ha fatto per molti anni macro,
vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra
del bello ovile ov’io dormi’ agnello,
nimico ai lupi che li danno guerra;
con altra voce omai, con altro vello
ritornerò poeta, e in sul fonte
del mio battesmo prenderò ’l cappello . . .
(Par. 25.1-9)

If it should happen . . . If this sacred poem—
this work so shared by heaven and by earth
that it has made me lean through these long years—
can ever overcome the cruelty
that bars me from the fair fold where I slept,
a lamb opposed to wolves that war on it,
by then with other voice, with other fleece,
I shall return as poet and put on,
at my baptismal font, the laurel crown . . .

Read more:
Read more:
Listen Dante 21 BBC:

A copy on wooden panel is preserved in the Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. This text is easier to read.

The history of this lunette is recounted in Giorgio Vasari’s Life of Bronzino. According to Vasari’s reconstruction, in fact, the portrait of Dante that will be exhibited at Palazzo Vecchio is an oil on canvas dating to 1532-1533. The painter was commissioned to make it along with portraits of Petrarch and Boccaccio, to decorate a room in the home of the cultivated Florentine banker Bartolomeo Bettini, with “Tuscan poets who have written verses about love” in the lunettes of the walls. At the centre was a panel depicting “Venus and Cupid” painted by Pontormo after a cartoon by Michelangelo Buonarroti, today preserved in the Galleria dell’Accademia. The ambitious project, which remained unfinished, involved the most important painters working in the city in that period, and dealt with themes cherished by writers of the future Accademia Fiorentina (which Bronzino himself belonged to until 1547), such as the superiority of the Tuscan language and the relationship between art and poetry.

See also:

George Rhoads 1926-2021

“Rolling Ball Sculpture As A Mechanical Design Challenge,” Alma Žiga and Derzija Begic-Hajdarevic in New Technologies, Development And Application“ Nt-2021 June 24-26. 2021. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Visualizing the Virus

Visualizing the Virus was founded and is led by Dr Sria Chatterjee, an art historian and environmental humanities scholar who received her PhD from the department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton in 2019. It is made possible by a grant from DARIAH EU and support from the Institute of Experimental Design and Media, FHNW. Princeton Center for Digital Humanities is a project partner.

They have a wide network of collaborators and are particularly grateful to the Max-Planck Kunsthistorisches Institute, the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda, the Department of History at Princeton University, PACE Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton for their collaborations.

The project goes beyond the media narratives around Covid-19. They write:

Visualizing the Virus is an interdisciplinary digital project through which one can visualize and understand the Coronavirus pandemic from a variety of perspectives. It aims to center the inequalities the pandemic makes visible. Gaps between the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences are hard to bridge. This means that pandemics are often studied without considering their many interconnected histories. Visualizing the Virus connects insights from different disciplines to create a collective digital space for exactly such a convergence. We are not only interested in the ways in which scientists, artists and people in their everyday lives have made the virus visible; but also in processes, historical and contemporary, that the viruses make visible – inequalities, be it of access to resources and healthcare, vaccine imperialism, xenophobia, gender inequalities, and so on.

If you would like to participate by collaborating and/or contributing to the project, they would love to hear from you. Our Graphic Arts webinar and acquisitions played a small part, with thanks to Ellen Ambrosone.

 Dulari Devi, Corona Effect in Patna, 2020. Acrylic on paper. Purchased with funds from South Asian Studies and Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Pictures on paper

Coming in the fall, The Color of a Flea’s Eye: The Picture Collection by Taryn Simon, exhibition and events at NYPL opening September 1, 2021; in conjunction with the show currently at the Gagosian Gallery, July 14–September 11, 2021 (

Read more: Words on Pictures: Romana Javitz and the New York Public Library’s Picture Collection by Anthony T Troncale, Jessica Cline, 2020

New Yorker:

Taryn Simon: The Color of a Flea’s Eye: The Picture Collection by Taryn Simon, Joshua Chuang, and Tim Griffin, 2020. Marquand Library use only » Oversize Z664.N499 S56 2020q

Or go see it in person:

Looking under Presses and Printing:

Circulating postcard collection has Princeton’s Drumthwacket


In Conversation: Taryn Simon and Teju Cole:

LVxNBA: Printed or Woven?

In 2001, Spike Lee (born 1957) received an honorary degree from Princeton University alongside Bill (William Felton) Russell, the former professional basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969. Last Saturday, serving as the president of the Cannes Film Festival jury, Lee appeared on the red carpet wearing a suit from the LVxNBA collection. Press photographs made it difficult to tell if the vibrant graphic design on the suit was printed or woven.

(Sebastien Nogier/EPA, via Shutterstock)

Last year, to commemorate the Los Angeles Lakers win of the NBA championship, Louis Vuitton formed a three-year partnership with the National Basketball Association and under designer Virgil Abloh, unveiled a line of limited edition clothing and accessories intersecting French craftsmanship and American sports. It became known as LVxNBA or Louis Vuitton x National Basketball Association.

Vitton’s site describes it: “The collection adapts the designer’s codes with the iconography of the basketball universe and honors the values of relatability and inclusion key to Virgil Abloh’s vision at Louis Vuitton.”

The clothing features the iconic NBA logo, which is a silhouette of the former Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Jerry West (born 1938), sometimes called “Mr. Clutch” and sometime “The Logo,” because of his ubiquitous image. Created in 1969 by brand consultant Alan Siegel, the NBA logo has been a staple of the association for over 50 years. West was never asked or compensated for his profile.

On the LVxNBA apparel, the repetition of the NBA logo forms a houndstooth appearance, which is a pattern you get when you combine a 2/2 twill weave (two threads over, two under) with simple alternations of color—four white, then four black, then four white, and so on—on both the warp and weft. In fact, the exclusive Vuitton clothing is made with a Jacquard weave, produced only on a special loom that creates complex woven-in repeated designs, producing the houndstooth-style effect.



Unfortunately, the line is only for men since women don’t watch basketball.


Reposting a very curious collection of upwards of 370 specimens of paper with various Watermarks

specimens of paper12

1593 unicorn watermark

specimens of paper8


specimens of paper3

1377 griffin watermark

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In honor of the 35th Biennial Congress of the International Association of Paper Historians (IPH) co-hosted by the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Archives and Records Administration, currently in progress online, here is a reposting of the unusual collection of watermarks collected by Dawson Turner. This is physically in Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection and digitized here:

During the 1952-53 fiscal year, a unique collection of nearly 400 specimens of European papers with different watermarks (1377-1840) was acquired for the Graphic Arts Collection, at the suggestion of Elmer Adler (1884-1962) with a fund turned over to the Library by the Friends of the Princeton University Library (FPUL). Adler must have been a good negotiator, talking rare book dealer Philip Duschnes down from $350 to $300.

The album was elaborately created with sheets of many shapes and sizes bound in various layers, with a brief description written at the top of each sheet. I have included the front matter pinned to the endpapers.

specimens of paper1

Originally in the collection of Dawson Turner (1775–1858), the auction catalogue description reads: ’Watermarks on Paper. A very curious collection of upwards of three hundred and seventy specimens of paper with various Watermarks, for A.D. 1377 to A. D. 1842, collected with a view to assist in ascertaining the age of undated manuscripts, and of verifying that of dated ones, by Dawson Turner, Esq. and bound in 1 vol. half calf.’

See also: Catalogue of the Remaining Portion of the Library of Dawson Turner, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., F.L.S., etc., etc. formerly of Yarmouth: which will be sold by auction by Messrs. Puttick and Simpson … Leicester Square … on Monday, May 16th, 1859, and seven following days (Sunday excepted). [London, 1859], item 1523.


specimens of paper2
apecimens of paper8

specimens of paper6 apecimens of paper5
specimens of paper5

Specimens of Paper with Different Water Marks, 1377-1840. 1 v. (unpaged); 40 cm. 371 specimens of watermarked paper, together with brief descriptions of each in a mid-nineteenth century ms. hand. The specimens are mainly blank leaves, though some leaves feature writing and letterpress. Specimen 334 is stamped sheet addressed to Dawson Turner (1775-1858), Yarmouth. Purchased with funds from the Friends of the Princeton University Library. Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF) Oversize Z237 .S632f

specimens of paper9

Dawson Turner may have seen a goat, but this is a definitely a Unicorn, specifically a “bearded unicorn”, with its horn removed by Victorian scissors. The date c.1440 is almost certainly wrong; a much more plausible date is mid-1470s.
Thanks very much to Paul Needham for the correction.

watermark 4

For comparison, here is an image of a Unicorn precisely of this type used by Caxton, in Bruges, c. 1475.

specimens of paper11

Links to our webinar recordings

Looking back at the past sixteen months of virtual sharing, here is a recap of the webinars presented to highlight special collections at Princeton University Library, hosted by Julie Mellby. Many have been recorded and archived at:

New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut. May 22, 2020
To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest surviving print from Colonial America, we assembled all five extent copies of the portrait of the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) by or after John Foster. Julie Mellby was joined by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints and Associate Librarian for Collection Care and Development, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask. June 26, 2020
This program was chosen specifically for June, LGBTQ pride month and this year, the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride march. Both Walt Whitman and Thomas Eakins, in their own way, broke down barriers around sex, sexuality, and the celebration of the human body. Presented by Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, and Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art, Princeton University Art Museum.

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler. July 31, 2020
This month focused on the speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of author Octavia E. Butler. Julie Mellby was joined by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, the award winning team who produced the graphic novel adaptations of Parable of the Sower and Kindred.

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. August 26, 2020
The fourth in our series celebrated the centenary of the 19th amendment on Women’s Equality Day. Julie Mellby was joined by Lauren Santangelo, author of Suffrage and the City and lecturer in Princeton University’s Writing Program, along with Sara Howard, Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement within Scholarly Collections and Research Services at Princeton University Library.

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press, September 25, 2020
Recently we acquired most of the rare letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (1903-1977). Best known for her diaries, Nin also wrote fiction with themes of history, feminism and multiculturalism. Together with Gonzalo More, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she taught herself to set type, stood for hours pumping a treadle press, and distributed her books with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. After a close look at the books and prints by Julie Mellby, we are joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will update us on their efforts to landmark this building.

Before Zoom, Pre-Cinema, Optical Devices Tour, December 4, 2020
A virtual tour highlighting our collection of pre-zoom, pre-cinema optical devices, rare artifacts designed for shared public entertainment or personal moments of wonder, leading up to the invention of the motion picture. Through a series of live webcams (yikes, not prerecorded), Julie Mellby attempted the phantasmagoria experienced in the past as we peer into 18th-century peepshows, twirl phenakistoscopes, open a gigantic megalethoscope and crank a miniature cinematograph. She was joined by Christopher Collier, Executive Director, and Jesse Crooks, Operations Director and Head Projectionist for Renew Theaters, who will share some of the history and treasures of Princeton’s Garden Theater.

Acrobatics: Moving Through the Trans Archives, February 26, 2021
Our title refers to the celebrated career of the 19th-century gender-fluid acrobat Mademoiselle Lulu (Sam Wasgott), with whom we begin our discussion. From there we will move through 20th and 21st century materials that define the trans archive, with an emphasis on race as well as gender. We are thrilled to be joined by RL Goldberg (they/them), English Department and Associate Director, Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows, in dialogue with queer book dealer, collector, and historian Gerard Koskovich (he/him); along with Sara Howard (she/her), Librarian for Gender and Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement, and Julie Mellby (she/her), Graphic Arts Curator.

Mithila Art in 2020: Life, Labor, and COVID-19 in South Asia, March 26, 2021
Throughout 2020, artists in South Asia have been engaging with pandemic-related themes that reflect the vast inequity with which the pandemic has manifested in the lives those citizens. While some have managed to maintain safety and stability, many more have experienced food insecurity, displacement, disease, and loss of income. The Mithila art in Princeton’s collection expresses moments of both serenity and sorrow in the midst of the recent crisis. Panelists will discuss and reflect on the particular expressions of COVID-19 in this art, as well the impact of the pandemic on artisan labor and art markets. The panel discussion included Amanda Lanzillo, Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows; Lina Vincent, art historian and curator based in Goa, India; and Peter Zirnis, curator and collector of Mithila art; hosted by Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator and Ellen Ambrosone, South Asian Studies Librarian.

April is for the Birds: From Audubon’s Extraordinary Birds of America to the Indispensable Pocket Field Guides, April 30, 2021
As we have done for our students, we paged through multiple volumes so viewers can experience the colossal scale of Audubon’s birds, painted life-size and then transferred to copper plates for the printing and painting of the published ‘double-elephant’ volumes. Introducing us to Audubon’s remarkable work is Rachael Z. DeLue, Christopher Binyon Sarofim ’86 Professor in American Art, Professor of Art and Archaeology and American Studies, and the current Chair of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, focused on master printer Robert Havell, Jr. who took Audubon’s paintings and transformed them into 435 aquatints. Finally, Robert Kirk, Publisher, Princeton Nature, with Princeton University Press who brought us up to date with the field guides used by birders.’s%20’Birds%20of%20America’/1_ymiadleu

The Princeton Print Club, May 28, 2021
The initial idea was for Adler, with his large collection of books, plates and prints, to give informal courses in the graphic arts that would serve to stimulate the cultural interests of Princeton undergraduates. A group of students decided to go further by forming an organization whose activities would revolve around 40 Mercer (later 36 University Place) and so it was that the Princeton Print Club came into existence. Julie Mellby presented an illustrated history of the organization, joined by Marilyn Kushner, New York Historical Society, who talked about the explosion of interest in printing and print collecting at that time, and by Alexandra Letvin, from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, where they continue to circulate fine art prints to the students each semester as part of their Art Rental program.

They’re here

Now in my empty heart the crickets’ shout
Re-echoing denies and still denies
With stubborn folly all my learned doubt,
In madness more than I in reason wise.

Life life ! The word is magical. They sing,
And in my darkened soul the great sun shines ;
My fancy blossoms with remembered spring,
And all my autumns ripen on the vines.


Life ! and each knuckle of the fig tree’s pale
Dead skeleton breaks out with emerald fire.
Life ! and the tulips blow, the nightingale
Calls back the rose, calls back the old desire.

And old desire that is for ever new,
Desire* life’s earliest and latest birth.
Life’s instrument to suffer and to do.
Springs with the roses from the teeming earth.

Desire that from the world’s bright body strips
Deforming time and makes each kiss the first ;
That gives to hearts, to satiated lips
The endless bounty of to-morrow’s thirst.

Time passes and the watery moonrise peers
Between the tree-trunks. But no outer light
Tempers the chances of our groping years.
No moon beyond our labyrinthine night.

Clueless we go ; but I have heard thy voice,
Divine unreason ! harping in the leaves.
And grieve no more ; for wisdom never grieves.
And thou hast taught me wisdom ; I rejoice.

–ALDOUS HUXLEY, The Cicadas, and other poems (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, Doran, 1931). PR6015.U9 C5 1931


The Princeton Print Club webinar, save the date

Harry Shokler (1896-1978), Triple Arch Connecting Reunion and West College, 1945. Serigraph. Fifth print issued by the Princeton Print Club.

In 1940, Elmer Adler was invited to Princeton University for 3 years and stayed for 12 in an “experiment in the study of printing and the graphic arts.” He filled the 12 rooms at 40 Mercer Street with permanent displays of fine printing along with rotating exhibitions managed by undergraduates and supervised by Adler, who was called the Prince of Prints. They formed the Princeton Print Club to not only engage the students with a print lending library, but reach a broad community of artists, printers, and collectors.

The Princeton Print Club will be the focus of a free webinar at 2:00 edt on Friday, May 28, 2021. Julie Mellby will present an illustrated history of the organization, joined by Marilyn Kushner, New York Historical Society, who will talk about the explosion of interest in printing and print collecting at that time, and by Alexandra Letvin, from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, where they continue to circulate fine art prints to the students each semester as part of their Art Rental program. Registration: HERE

John Taylor Arms demonstrating intaglio printing

On lending day, the boys lined up before breakfast in order to be first to see the print selection. By noon, 400 or more framed works had been circulated.

The initial idea was for Adler, with his large collection of books, plates and prints, to give informal courses in the graphic arts that would serve to stimulate the cultural interests of Princeton undergraduates. A group of students decided to go further by forming an organization whose activities would revolve around 40 Mercer (later 36 University Place) and so it was that the Princeton Print Club came into existence.

With a regular membership fee of $5 a year, the club rapidly gained support among undergraduates, faculty, and alumni until enrollment hit 100. Each member received an annual fine art print depicting the Princeton campus, as well as invitations to lectures, demonstrations, and an annual print sale. Proceeds were used to establish a circulating collection of prints and photographs lent to students at the beginning of each semester. That collection forms the basis of the current Graphic Arts Collection, now part of Firestone Library’s Special Collections.

Louis L. Novak (1903-1988), Joline-Campbell Hall from Blair Court, 1943. Linocut. Third print issued by the Princeton Print Club



Please join us at 2:00 edt on Friday, May 28, 2021. The event is free but you must register for the zoom link: HERE. For more information, please contact